Signs of Drug Addiction

Recognizing that you have a problem is the first step to recovery. How do you know that it’s time for treatment? Our practitioners can provide some clinical insight. Read the signs of addiction below to gauge your substance use and decide whether it’s time to ask for help.

Alcohol and Drug Addiction Definition

What differentiates addiction from casual drug use or social drinking? How do you know if you’ve crossed from dependence to substance use disorder? Generally, whether you are dependent or addicted is determined by your body and mind’s reliance on drugs or alcohol.

Social Drinking and Recreational Drug Use

People who drink or use drugs occasionally may not feel any compulsion to use. They can stop at any time and tend to consume much less of a substance than a dependent person would. You can think of them as drinking small amounts on rare occasions.

Chemical Dependency

Those with chemical dependency develop a tolerance for their substance of choice. They require more and more of it to achieve the same effects. More of their time is allocated to obtaining, using, and recovering from that substance. If they stop using, they experience withdrawal symptoms. Their bodies get used to the effects of drinking and drug use, and if they stop, they become uncomfortable.


Substance use disorder (addiction) is the most severe level of reliance on drugs or alcohol. An addicted individual craves their substance of choice and makes it the highest priority in their life (to the detriment of their relationships, career, health, and finances). Even though they recognize these consequences, they continue to drink or use. The dopamine release associated with substance use becomes necessary instead of something they seek out for fun or to unwind. They may have tried to stop and found themselves unable to follow through.

Signs of Addiction

To determine whether your substance use requires professional intervention, we invite you to consider the list of addiction symptoms below. If you relate to some or all of these signs of addiction, contact us for a complimentary consultation.

  • Drinking or using in greater amounts for longer than you intended
  • Wanting to control your substance use, but failing to
  • Spending most of your time and money on alcohol or drugs
  • Being intoxicated at work, school, or other inappropriate settings
  • Giving up social, occupational, or recreational activities because of your use
  • Continuing to drink or use despite the consequences (health issues, relationship problems, legal trouble, job loss)
  • Needing to use more of a substance to feel the same effects
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms (aches and pains, racing heart, insomnia, shakiness)
  • Drinking or using to avoid those withdrawal symptoms or maintain your “normal”
  • Making risky or impulsive decisions that aren’t in line with your values
  • Lying to loved ones about how much and whether you’re using
  • Blacking out and forgetting what happened
  • Finding yourself unable to remember or keep promises
  • Getting arrested for driving under the influence, public intoxication, or related offenses
  • Feeling unable to change any of the above, even though you want to